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Choices in Lasers = Manufacturing Efficiency

Single and double work cells afford production designers more options in job shops and large production department environments

Through the integration of a laser into the work cell or production line concept in various industries, companies like German Machine Tools of America can now offer a greater degree of efficiency and quality product output to manufacturers of powertrain systems, individual drive components or sub-systems and even the contract job shop. It is a fact that, in today’s competitive environment, more emphasis needs to be placed on the coordination of machining, part handling, joining, product surface modification, finishing and assembly than was previously thought possible.

Already a successful supplier of machine tools and related equipment to the automotive and other heavy production industries, GMTA further seeks to position itself as a full laser integrator or supplier of laser equipment to the North American industry.

The double welding cell can be used with solid-state and CO2 lasers for rotationally symmetrical and other geometries, axial and radial welded seams.

Compact solutions

As many manufacturers know, there are restrictions to the welding capacity of shaft parts and square contours. The Arnold Ravensburg laser compact cell, however, can help manufacturers overcome those restrictions. As the smallest series for laser welding round components, the laser compact cell can be operated with CO2 and with a solid-state laser suitable for mass production and smaller batches. This is thanks to parallel loading in the primary processing time and shorter changeover times. Many solution options can be realized in addition to laser welding with different layout versions for additional processes and automation options.

A potential function sequence for the cell could include loading a workpiece into a rotary table, manual or automated, with rotary table switches. From there, the workpiece can be lifted out and clamped against the welding rim where a rotating axle (C) rotates the workpiece during welding. A new workpiece can then be loaded parallel to welding and clamping.

The cell is a single block machine with small installation space and fast reconstruction. It’s known for its easy maintenance and low service cycles. It can also be upgraded with a CO2 and solid-state laser.

For individual parts and small batch production, it can feature manual and alternative automatic loading/unloading capabilities. Clamping technology is also integrated for specific components. A radiation protection laser class 1 recommissioning can happen in less than two days. It is NC controlled on the X-Z axis and includes component rotation, differentiated layout and automation versions.

The CO2 laser processing head is based on a patented alignment principle with Crossjet integrated gas supply. Process monitoring with an optical sensor is also available.

For the solid-state laser, a cooled mirror with low focus shift is available as is process monitoring with optical sensor. According to GMTA, additional functions are easy to integrate.

Additional technical data includes:

Traversing paths: X = 250 mm (optics); Z = 250 mm (optics); C = n X 360° (workpiece); W = 100 mm (pneumatic, workpiece)
Control unit: Sinumerik 840 D
Dimensions in approximate length by width by height are 1,200 by 2,800 by 2,240 mm for the welding cell without the laser and cooling unit
Beam source includes a solid-state laser and CO2 laser in 1 kW to 8 kW
Cycle time is approximately 15 sec.
Loading automated or manual is possible with two-hand operation
Maximum workpiece Ø: 200 mm X 70 mm (height)

A small series for laser welding round components, the laser compact cell can be operated with CO2 and with a solid-state laser suitable for mass production and smaller batches.

Two-station laser cell solutions

The classic two-station principle is represented by the Laserflex cell. This double welding cell can be flexibly used with solid-state and CO2 lasers as well as for rotationally symmetrical and other geometries, axial and radial welded seams. In addition to laser material processing, there is also an integrated pressing function. Through independently autonomous lifting gates, it is possible to load the workpieces automatically or by hand.

The machine’s concept includes a cantilever system with moveable processing optic. The processing optic moves via a cantilever arm to the individual stations and can process radial and axial seams without changeover of the swiveling optic head.

Owing to the swivel axis in the direction of the workpiece (Y), both stations can be built in close proximity and thereby meet customer requirements for a smaller footprint. The system is designed as a “single block” machine with a common base frame for all system components.

Open space optic

Because of the sensitivity of the optical fibers and the large bending radii, rotational movements are critical in the case of fiber guided laser applications. An effective and space-saving solution is provided to this problem by the open space technology. In principle, this means that the laser beam is uncoupled before the rotational movement and guided over mirrors to the processing area.

Modular clamping technology is provided for round components with the integrated pressing function and moveable counter bearing for shaft machining without part articulation, reclamping or station changeover. Pressing forces of 6 tons during pressing and welding ensure the welding process is reliable.

Additional technical data includes:

Control unit: Siemens 840 D SL CNC
Dimensions: 3,500 by 2,450 by 3,200 mm (length by width by height)
Beam source: CO2 or solid-state laser
Maximum workpiece Ø: 250 mm
Maximum workpiece height above device: 200 mm
Strokes, NC-axes: X = 1,000 mm; Y3 = 600 mm; Z = 500 mm (optic); B = +/-100° (optic); Y1, Y2 = 650 mm (workpiece); C1,C2 = n X 360° (workpiece); W1,W2 = 110 mm/60 kN (pressing workpiece)

GMTA will sell the machine, sell only the laser for line integration or sell an entire production line, including the various machine tool and parts washing technologies they currently represent.

To watch these Arnold machines in action, click on the following links:

This video demonstrates joining of gear components

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Video Two

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German Machine Tools of America